Email is a great way to do market research. It’s cheap, easy, and the results are fast. If you have an email list, you already have a pre-screened sample of your target market. By simply signing up, those people have expressed interest in your products. Here are tips on how to use this valuable market research tool effectively.

Email Makes Surveys Easy

One of the biggest advantages of email is that it makes responding to your survey easy. All your subscribers need to do is hit ‘reply’ and the results of the survey get sent back to you. You can make it even easier by giving people simple checkboxes to click. They don’t even need to enter any text. You can include an optional opinion form at the bottom if they want to leave comments.

Opinion Surveys by Email

Opinion surveys also work well through email, but because they involve more action on the part of your respondents, response rate isn’t as high. However, the information you receive is more in-depth and higher quality. These are surveys in which you throw out a suggestion or ask for ideas, and people respond with their opinions. Since you’re asking people to do more, it’s good to offer an incentive or reward for participating.

The Dreaded Delete Button

The major downside of email surveys is that your respondents can hit the delete button and make the email disappear forever. There are a few ways you can reduce the risk of this happening. One is to make sure the ‘from’ line tells the recipient who you are and the ‘subject’ line explains what your email is about. Tell people why you want their input and how you’re going to use it to improve your products or services. Tell them also how long the survey will take.

Spicing up Your Surveys

One way to make it more fun and encourage participation is to liven up your survey with images or other attached files. This takes advantage of email’s unique capabilities and makes the survey more engaging for people than ordinary snail mail surveys.

Share the Results

People don’t like to be left hanging, so share the results of the survey with all participants. You can do this through email or by publishing the results on your blog. Let people know at the time of taking the survey when and where they’ll be able to see the results. Be sure to thank them as well.

The Disadvantage of Email Surveys

There’s just one major disadvantage of email surveys. Not everyone uses email. This limits the audience for your survey. If you need input from people of all ages and demographics, email may not be the most suitable method. Email surveys work best for groups that use it often like business people, college students, association members, or subscribers to your list. Keep this in mind when planning your survey.